Monday, September 29, 2008

Fall for Dance, September 25th and 27th

I thought that Thursday was a really entertaining night at Fall for Dance, but not for the reason I expected. I was really excited about seeing the Suzanne Farrell Ballet in Pithoprakta, but I was disappointed in their performance. Tonya Plank thought the dancers looked nervous and I don't disagree, particularly with regard to Elisabeth Holowchuk who also seemed, perhaps, overly cautious. I think if she had seemed more in command it could have gone a long way. I wouldn't say, necessarily, that I disliked the piece because of the dancers though because with a few momentary exceptions, I didn't take much pleasure in the choreography. In her New York Times review Claudia La Rocco describes it as, "good weird," and writes,
Balanchine’s choreographic response to this dizzying aural architecture is wild-eyed and surprisingly but suitably gravity-conscious. Dancers drop and roll, stagger back, shudder and seem always about to collapse. The lead dancers (on Thursday, Elisabeth Holowchuk and Matthew Prescott) are constantly being separated: by pools of light; by the sinister and sexy black-clad dancers, resembling a chorus line seen through a glass, darkly; and by their own perverse actions in pushing each other away.
I'd like to watch it again, looking for those things.

The rest of the night I found enjoyable although I didn't love anything without reservations. I thought Talia Paz was marvelous but her music was incredibly repetitive and nothing more than bland to begin with. The Lombard Twins had good music but seemed like something I could see on So You Think You Can Dance? which is fine as far as it goes. And I liked the Kate Weare Company but had trouble seeing parts of it because it was blocked by the head of one of the people sitting in front of me (you have to love City Center). Garth Fagan Dance brought From Before, which the program described as, "a look at movement before Western Civilization," which is a rather bold claim. It's from the 70s and looks it, and those shiny, colorful unitards certainly don't leave much to the imagination, but I thought it was a lot of fun.

I saw the final program of Fall for Dance on Saturday. It felt like a bit of a loaded final program what with the Twyla Tharp choreography, the San Francisco Ballet dancing Robbins, and the Paul Taylor Dance Company dancing Esplanade.

The Twyla Tharp, Sweet Fields, was performed by the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, and seemed a bit different from the other Tharp dances I've seen so far in that it seemed less busy and more...reverential, I suppose. Which is appropriate considering the dance is performed to Shaker hymns--which would be so much nicer performed live. What I liked best about the performance, though, might have been Jennifer Tipton's lighting. It looked light light streaming in the windows of an old church and while I may not be wild about religion in general I've always loved old churches.

They were followed by the San Francisco Ballet, performing In the Night by Jerome Robbins. They provided the best showing for ballet in Fall for Dance. For starters, the men weren't stuck in costumes that were either pink and blousey or attacked with a bedazzler. More importantly though, the dancers weren't dull (ABT), seemingly uncertain (Suzanne Farrell Ballet), or apparent victims of facial paralysis (Houston Ballet). And while the Christopher Wheeldon pas de deux that Oregon Ballet Theater performed was perfectly pleasant--and their dancers were lovely--In the Night was rather more interesting, what with the distict characters Robbins created through movement. Wheeldon's dancers seemed much more generic, through no fault of their own.

My least favorite part of the night was the Compania Nacional de Danza performing Nacho Duato's Cor Perdut. I didn't dislike it, I just felt kind of indifferent to it and a couple days later don't remember much of anything about it.

Meanwhile, my main thought while watching Paul Taylor's Esplanade was how exhausting it looked. All that running! I'd just gone to a yoga class for the first time in a couple years and trying to do that stuff really brought home how out of shape I am, so I was in an especially appreciative mood Saturday night. Esplanade is such a good-natured, friendly feeling dance, though not universally light in mood, that it seemed to me to be a perfect way to end the festival.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fall for Dance, September 23rd

So it's been an interesting experience for me to sit so close to the stage. I'm usually about as far back in the theater as I can get so it's different to be able to see so many small things. Of course it's not always an improvement. For example the Houston Ballet's costumes for Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux would probably have looked marginally better from a distance. I mean, I'd probably have needed to be watching from the nosebleeds of a football stadium for Connor Walsh's getup to look decent. Still, a little distance might have been helpful. Even more so because from my usual seats I might not have noticed the fact that Sara Webb's face seemed paralyzed. I mean, sure, look happy. But the same exact expression for the entire eight minutes? It's just discomfiting and feels completely fake. I liked Webb's dancing other than that--moreso than Walsh's--but the frozen rictus of a smile was consistently distracting.

And in BeijingDance/LDTX's performance--in which they were apparently animated pieces of a Go game and also players of Go, according to the program notes--I sometimes couldn't see everything on stage as well as I would have liked. I don't think I would have been terribly fond of the work anyway, but I do think I like sitting further back and looking at the stage from above better.

Also subject to my annoyance last night was the choreography for Single Room. Fang-Yi Sheu is a gorgeous dancer but she was apparently narrating a girl's loneliness in a relationship by dancing with a table. Because I know when I'm feeling lonely what I really want to do is roll around on (and under) my kitchen table while showing off my legs in various ways. (Granted, I certainly don't have legs like that and hers are worth showing off.) I know I'm being far too literal there, but nevertheless I definitely could have lived with less of the table.

The other two performances though, I really liked. The Richard Siegal choreographed The New 45 went on a bit too long but was so witty and fun that I didn't much mind. And Ayman Harper and Mario Zambrano were engaging, entertaining performers. I thought they were fantastic. Also, this was another performance that made me want to see more of both the choreographer and the dancers.

I also really enjoyed The Gentlemen of Hälau Nä Kamalei. I'd never seen hulu performed before either by men or by women so that was a treat. And while this was another piece that had a story I couldn't follow in the least--maybe the music told the story?--I did get a kick out of reading about it in the program. It's described as the, "myth, legend, and love story of a surfer from Kauai who comes to the North Shore of Oahu to ride the waves of Sunset Beach." I imagine it's cultural ignorance, but I'm so cheerfully entertained by the idea of watching a dance by a guy who goes ot Oahu to surf. It was a nice way to end the evening.

Photo from the City Center Web site.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fall for Dance, September 21st (by way of self-indulgent rambling)

What I'm enjoying most about the Fall for Dance festival is the opportunity it gives me to see all sorts of new things and figure out what I'd like to see more of. I've been watching dance on what amounts to a semi-regular basis for such a short time. Two years ago I could have fit everything I knew about dance on a 3 x 5 index card (one side of a 3 x 5 index card). Knowing that Balanchine was the answer to a particular Cranium trivia question was a total accomplishment for me. So almost everything I go to see is still new to me. And as a result, I don't know what I'm going to like or dislike; it's a constant process of discovery. Sometimes--often, really--even after I see something I don't quite know why I feel the way I do about it. I wind up feeling like my reaction is a puzzle I have to work out. Which is why I write about the performances I see on this blog. The writing forces me to think about things more clearly. And knowing that other people will be able to read what I've written forces me to be at least somewhat less muddled than I would be if I were writing in a journal that only I would see. So it's all part of some self-assigned learning experience or personal improvement project or whatever, I suppose.

Anyway, I'd never seen any of the performers that I saw Sunday afternoon and the only choreographer I was at all familiar with going in was Christopher Wheeldon. I've seen a few of Christopher Wheeldon's ballets now, but I'm still not quite sure what I think of him. Generally speaking I'd enjoy less partnering and more women dancing on their own two feet, but I don't dislike his work. His choreography is beautiful and musical and he seems to avoid the most obnoxious of cliches. So all in all I find his ballets that I've seen perfectly pleasant. But at the same time I don't find myself anxious to go see more. Perhaps I just haven't seen the right Wheeldon piece yet. That's perfectly plausible paricularly because what I've seen has been kind of same-y. The pas de deux from Rush didn't really change that. It was lovely--although that costume did nothing for Alison Roper-- and I really liked both Oregon Ballet Theatre dancers, but it didn't seem particularly different from what I've seen from him before. I understand that the pas de deux is atypical with reference to the rest of the ballet so I wish I could have seen the whole thing.

I liked watching Madhavi and Arushi Mudgal and I loved how the dancers were also involved in creating the music with the bells they wore. Whenever I watch Indian dance though, I'm ready for it to end before it actually ends. There are all kinds of storytelling elements, right? But they're completely over my head. And Sheron Wray was a wonderful dancer but the piece she did, Harmonica Breakdown, didn't really leave an impression on me. So the middle section of the program left me feeling fairly neutral. I had stronger reactions to the first and last performances though.

, which came last and was performed by the Hofesh Schecter Company, was the first piece I've seen so far during the festival where I couldn't wait for it to end just so I could stop watching it. But that wasn't the universal opinion by any means. Much of the audience clearly loved it and while leaving I heard people talking about how much they had liked the first and last dances. It can't have helped that my viewing situation was less than ideal--for this final dance only I was behind a woman taller than myself and had trouble seeing part of the stage around her head--but I just found the whole thing almost entirely uninteresting. I don't know why other people enjoyed it while I was so unentertained. And I couldn't even tell you precisely why I didn't think much of it.

The other piece that I had a strong reaction to was the first, Les Chambres des Jacques, performed by [bjm_danse] Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, which I thorougly enjoyed. The program notes say that it's, "an exploration of the inner life and drama of the individual dancers." I'm not sure that came across, at least in the excerpt we saw, but the dancing was just so much fun to watch. I particularly liked the solos and how individual the dancers, who I though were wonderful, seemed. And it seemed to me that Aszure Barton along with the dancers created a very particular sense of a community in which the dance took place. I also loved the music. The performance made me want to see more of the company and more of Barton's choreography. And after all, that's what the festival is supposed to do isn't it?

Rush photo from Les Chambres des Jacques photo from the New York Sun.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fall for Dance, September 19th

This time around I was going to Fall for Dance with my grandmother. She remembered seeing Merce Cunningham in the 60s or 70s (I don't remember which she said) and not liking it so thought she should give it another try all these years later. We met for mediocre Italian food at one of the restaurants that would give her double air miles--she uses them for all the travelling she's done in recent years and I think this next year is including Italy, India, China, and somewhere else so she needs those miles--and then walked over to City Center. It was nice and chilly Friday night--we're getting into my favorite sort of weather and I'm excited about that. I love autumn, although it's also the time I most miss living somewhere where it was easy to go apple and pumpkin picking. I'm going hiking in the Adirondaks with my father in a couple weeks and hopefully the trees will all be mid-change. But anyway...

I felt completely unequipped to watch the Merce Cunningham piece, Sounddance. I just don't get it. I mean I watched it and it was kind of like watching controlled chaos, and it was interesting at points but overall I just felt, well, baffled. And man are those costumes ugly. It didn't help that we were sitting just a wee bit too close to the speakers and the music--which I can't imagine enjoying under any circumstances--was verging on painful. Anyway, it seems clear that I need to learn more about Cunningham's choreography before I see something of his again so I'll be able to get more from it.

Next up was Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, which featured an African American man in a feathered loincloth impersonating an ostrich (but with more pelvic gyration than any ostrich could manage). It was interesting and the man dancing was certainly impressive, but I don't know that I feel much need to see people impersonating other animals with any frequency. Question though: Just how contemporary is something that premiered in 1932? Does "contemporary" refer to a certain era or kind of dance? I thought it just meant that the dance was, well, contemporary. Which something from 1932 really isn't at this point, is it?

The final bit of dancing before the intermission was from ABT, with Xiomara Reyes and Gennadi Savaliev in the pas de deux from The Leaves are Fading. I saw the full ballet with Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes (pictured) when ABT performed it last year and enjoyed it very much. I like Reyes fine but not nearly as much as Kent and have no general opinion one way or another on Savaliev (I don't think I've seen him dance much) but I felt like he was sort of stiff. Or perhaps not stiff but somehow unconvincing. Of course it's probably hard to be convincing while wearing a flowy pink blouse. Talking about making a man work extra hard.

After spending the evening thinking uncharitable thoughts about that particular look I was amused to see that Claudia La Rocco had a post up about ballet costumes in which she wrote, "anyone who has gone to the ballet with me a few times (OK, maybe only once) knows that a lot of the design concepts leave me feeling like I’m watching an extended commercial for feminine hygiene products. What’s with all the pastels??!" It hadn't occurred to me to think much beyond, "God, I hate that look," but feminine hygeine commercials certainly are an accurate comparison.

After the intermission there was a solo performance by Louise Lecavalier in an excerpt from a piece called Lone Epic that I thought was just wonderful. The program notes said that it, "explores the possibility of human emotion within a facade of presentation, recognizing that the emotions of love and loss, while intensely personal, are of epic importance." That was actually a bit more spelled out than I needed it to be for a change as the themes came through clearly. I particularly liked how the music stands and conducting were used as a "facade of presentation" (a performance within a performance) with that facade breaking down to reveal the personal emotions expressed through dance. I thought Lecavalier was a fantastic performer.

The final dance of the night was a tap performance by Ayodele Casel, Sarah Savelli & Dancers. We saw excerpts from a piece called Tap into Peace and while the tapping was a lot of fun to watch I thought the presentation was far less entertaining (particularly right after seeing Lecavalier's performance). There was something hokey about the bits of acting we saw and the setups just weren't that interesting. The dancing itself was better without the stuff that came with it.

All in all a fun night. Next up we're going to see All My Sons, which is making me very glad I found something cheap for us to do this month. Next on the to-do-list: finding a super-inexpensive restaurant for us to eat at in October.

Sounddance photo from Merce Cunningham's Web site. ABT photo is from their Web site. Lone Epic photo from here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Mutinous Peons

Another year, another round of the IPB fantasy league (hockey is totally coming, you guys!). Last year the Rabid Chinchillas puttered in to a rather middling finish. Part of the problem was that they were, well, just a wee bit pantywaisted. We got slaughtered in the penalty minutes category every week. Well, this year we've rebranded ourselves as the Mutinous Peons, sharpened our pitchforks, lit our torches, and begun taking our thuggish duties far more seriously. By which I mean that this time around we'll be featuring Chris Pronger with his flying elbows and stomping feet. 

Returning players this year are Pavel Datsyuk, Alexander Frolov, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Brad Boyes (who was surprisingly useful last year). The team is delighted to have all of them back. I'm a little more familiar with the players this year than last, which means that the IPB league really has been a learning experience. So, without further ado:

Things I Am Most Happy With
  • Replacing unlikable Russian goalie Nikolai Khabibulin with endlessly entertaining Russian goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. We can only hope for more interviews like this well-known one.
  • Patty's favorite player, Philippe Boucher, joining the D. Hopefully he won't be spending this entire season injured even if he does look nice in a suit
  • Having an integrated team thanks to Dustin Byfuglien (hey, it's hockey, it makes even the town I grew up in look racially diverse). 
  • Getting to keep best-player-in-the-world-even-if-the-media-wants-it-to-be-Ovechkin-or-Crosby Nick Lidstrom.
Our first opponent is Amy's The Little Honkers. They're going down. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fall for Dance, September 17th

I went to the first night of Fall for Dance on Wednesday and enjoyed it very much. I'm actually going to see all the programs this year which I'm excited about. A friend and her boyfriend who are in town came with me which was particularly nice. With my regular dance-going companion off in vet school learning to save the animals I'm left to drag other people off to shows with me so I was delighted that they enjoyed themselves. 

The first group of the night was Shen Wei Dance Arts. They were performing excerpts from a piece called Maps. I was looking forward to seeing this group and, to my surprise, found the dance interesting without being particularly appealing on a personal level. I can't help but wonder if I would have liked it more if we had seen it in its entirety instead of in excerpts. I also wonder if going to their Web site before attending might have allowed me to connect more to it as they have a lot of information about what the dancers are doing and what the intention of the choreography is. Something that I think is great. Less great? That it's one of those obnoxious flash sites that doesn't allow me to link directly to the information I'm talking about. 

As I think about it, I wonder if the reason it didn't engage me emotionally is because it seemed so divorced from anything other than the exploration of movement as its own end. I'm not saying that's not worthy but that I don't think it's what I enjoy most as a member of the audience. I found it interesting how one dancer would begin a certain movement and then the other dancers would pick it up and I also found myself following some of the patterns avidly. But what I kept coming back to was that no one on the stage ever touched. It seemed dehumanizing in a way to me and overly repetitive. Those two things being connected to my way of thinking. 

The second group to dance was Pichet Klunchun Dance Company doing a piece called Chui Chai. The program explained the story that the dance told and while I couldn't actually follow that I still found the dancing to be incredibly beautiful. The dancers control, particularly in their slow movements is amazing to me. The silent beginning of the dance, with women dressed in gorgeous ornate costumes moving ever so slowly, was marred by a cell phone going off and a man who felt the need to get his two cents in by yelling about it--as if adding to the disruption isn't also disrespectful to both the performers and the audience. Honestly, good manners aren't difficult. Anyway, I found that I couldn't take my eyes off the the dancers' fingers, the way they bent them back and moved them so precisely and how noticeable the subtle changes are. The other thing that fascinated me was the way that, when walking quickly, the dancers seemed almost to be gliding because their bodies never changed height. I don't know if I'm describing that right.  I felt fortunate to have a chance to see this.

After the intermission was Keigwin + Company performing the "Fire" segment of Elements. It's funny. Occasionally. Not, I think, nearly as funny as it's meant to be. Mostly it seems like the dance is going for cheap laughs. Look at how silly these dancers look in these unflattering costumes with the corsets and the bathing caps. Look at how incongruous it is to see them doing hip hop. It was just frivolous, but while frivolity can be a great deal of fun, in this case it seemed lazy more often than not. 

The final work of the evening was the National Ballet of Canada in Jiri Kylian's Soldiers' Mass. Like Shen Wei in Maps, Kylian frequently uses dancers moving in unison and creating patterns or picking up a movement from one dancer and repeating it, to create his effect. And yet if the dancing in Maps seemed dehumanizing then Soldiers' Mass is its opposite. The ballet's power comes from the fact that its soldier dancers are never anything more or less than humans. The comradeship, the fear, the grief, the bravery of the soldiers...those things are the point of the ballet. And although it's sad it's not entirely dark as there felt to me to be a strain of hopefulness running through it. I kept thinking--perhaps because it's the war I've read the most about--of the trench warfare of the first World War and the soldiers just sitting and waiting. Although I thought that at times it didn't work perfectly--I'm not sure here how to explain how I felt--I did find it quite moving. 

Monday, September 15, 2008

What I'm Reading . . .

I know I've barely posted this month but honestly I haven't done anything worth posting about and I thought that anyone still reading was probably getting pretty sick of hearing about my cat's health issues all the fucking time.

I've been reading a bunch of ballet related stuff of late. I'm interested to see what ABT's hiring of Ratmansky will bring so I've been following the critical reaction to that. Tonya Plank has an interesting post up about that (on which I left an absurdly long comment--I really ought to restrain myself). I haven't seen enough of Ratmansky's work to know how I feel about his choreography as a whole but I tend to think his involvement help more than it hurts. Either way, we'll have the opportunity to find out for ourselves.

I'm also reading Muriel Topaz's Tudor biography, Undimmed Lustre, and Judith Chazin-Bennahum's The Ballets of Anthony Tudor: Studies in Psyche and Satire, in preparation for seeing several of his ballets during ABT's fall season. I figure I'll appreciate them more if I come at them with some degree of knowledge about what's going on. I'll have a full post on those books when I finish them. I'm sure you're all just at the edge of your seats in anticipation.

And like so many other people I've been following the endless coverage of the election and Palin in particular. It's kind of amazing; between major elections I pay less attention to politics and so I forget how much it seems like we're living in the pages of a political satire and can't get out. I can't decide if it's actually funny or if it only would be funny if it wasn't real.

One thing I'm not reading is hockey previews not written by funny bloggers. The preseason's about to start, I'll be back to listening to the radio on game days, and I'm totally excited. But I just can't take hockey news. I'm on an all-positivity all the time diet when it comes to my hobbies because I have other things to be worried about right about now and I'm not going to waste energy worrying about things that are supposed to be fun.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fall for Dance

I'm writing tonight while sitting out on my balcony with Pyramus because the temperature is just perfect. The sky seems unusually light, even for New York with all its light pollution. The cloud cover tonight maybe? Anyway, I've been having a nice day today, particularly because I always feel exceptionally virtuous after voting (for Squadron and Newell in case anyone's dying to know). Anyway...

I'm glad it was such a nice day Sunday. I wanted to get Fall for Dance tickets without paying the ridiculous $6 per ticket service charge online the way I did last year. And since I'm kind of neurotic when it comes to things like buying tickets and I needed to get them for other people as well, I figured I would get there really early. So I left my apartment a bit before 6 o'clock Sunday morning. Now I don't know about you folks, but I don't get out of my apartment before light on a Sunday morning too often. It felt kind of adventurous and fun. And then a fight started between a man and a woman on the subway platform--not arguing but actually punching, kicking, hitting each other with umbrellas, etc.--and that was a hell of a lot less fun. More nauseating, really.

So it was a relief to get on the F and then come out onto the fairly deserted Sunday morning streets of midtown. There were already a number of people on line, but I felt good about being as close up as I was. (To the right you can see the line in front of me.) The lady who got there just after me was less happy, informing me that she was 33rd in line this year when last year she had been 15th. Also less happy were a couple of the old men a bit down the line who were very put out that an elderly couple in front of them added someone to the line who hadn't been there originally. One of them indignantly told the couple, "This is New York not Florida!" Apparently people don't respect lines in Florida? I don't know. Although it was hardly the end of the world, I can kind of understand where the elderly men were coming from, and it was certainly more civilized than my morning subway experience, but I still maintain that 7 on a Sunday morning is just too early to be getting all worked up.

It was a nice crisp morning, and I sat on my little camp stool and finished off Ha Jin's Waiting--which I continued to find tedious, by the way--as the line grew rapidly behind me. Then I did crossword puzzles for a bit and made a run to Au Bon Pain for breakfast. It was a pleasant way to spend my morning, really, particularly since I would have just been in bed for a good portion of it if I were at home anyway. And then I would have gotten up because Pyramus was asking to be fed and felt like I had to spend my morning doing chores. So despite the early wakeup I found the whole waiting in line aspect ridiculously relaxing.

They opened the box office about 15 minutes early, which was nice since it pretty much meant those of us at the front of the line got to beat the internet and phone buyers to the punch. The line buzzed along once they opened and by about 5 minutes after 11 I was back out on 55th Street, tickets in hand. And close ones at that. It'll be a little weird watching dance from somewhere other than the very back of the theater. I always just buy the rear mezzanine tickets for City Center since they're the ones I can afford. I didn't want to be fussy or worry about seating preferences at the window with such a massive line stretching behind me, so I just told the very friendly woman helping me to give me whatever available seats had the best view. On a couple of the nights I'm in the grand tier, but for the other nights I'm fairly close up in the orchestra, which will be a whole new experience for me. Hopefully it'll all be fine and I'll be able to see the dancers' feet and everything. I have no idea.

My grandmother called me around noon on Monday, worrying that the 19th, which is the day we're going together, was already sold out. She was at City Center to pick up Encores tickets and heard an announcement. It was a relief to be able to assure her that we were all set. I'm particularly pleased that I managed to suggest something so cheap for her to take me to. If I mention even a passing interest in a show, even if it's expensive, even if she's already seen it, she insists on getting tickets to it, so I figure this will go some small way to making up for some of those Broadway tickets she's been determined to buy. We like to sit in the very last row--"way up in Heaven," she says--but it's still more than I like her to spend, so this is nice.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Bird Story

During the great ringworm scare I took my bedroom curtains down so I wouldn't have to keep washing them, and as of today I hadn't put them back up. It didn't occur to me that it would make my windows less visible to birds until a poor little sparrow thunked into one today and plummeted downward. I immediately opened the window and screen and leaned out to see whether it had fallen all the way to the ground or recovered enough to fly away. It was lying on its back on a metal grating in the ground below my window, it's little head dropped down into the grating. I only got a brief look because I had to stop Pyramus from going out the window (he had that going-on-an-adventure look cats get before doing something you really wish they wouldn't) but even from 4 stories up I could see that the poor thing was still breathing, one foot twitching slightly, but not struggling.

The area where the bird had fallen is blocked off by a little fence, but that would be easy to climb over. The problem was that I wasn't sure what to do with the bird once I got there. At the same time though, I couldn't just leave the sad creature there to die. So as one does when one's best friend is a veterinary student, I called Wendy and asked what I should do. She told me that it might have just knocked itself out and if it wasn't stuck I should wait and see what happened or take it to the vet--our vet does look at wildlife--depending on whether or not it looked injured. If it was stuck I should unstick it and she'd tell me how to pick it up. For better or worse, though, by the time I got down to the spot the bird had flopped over on its side, one wing drooping through the grating, and breathed its last.

On the bright side, Wendy did think that it probably concussed itself on impact and never felt anything.